SQTalk  

Go Back   SQTalk > General > Trip Reports

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 18th May 2018, 04:03 PM   #1
SQueeze
SQTalk Solitaire PPS
 
Join Date: 05-Apr-2011
Location: SIN/BLR/BOM/DEL
Programs: SQ QPP, 9W JP Platinum, VN GL Silver
Posts: 1,126
Default Throwback to USSR: Ukraine Int'l to Kyiv and the State Aviation Museum

Background:

As some readers might be aware, I have been quite intrigued by the history of the USSR and the post-Soviet era of the states that have emerged since then. Last year, I had made a trip to progressive Kazakhstan, oil-wealthy Azerbaijan, and the Silkroad crossroad of Georgia - all of which are peripheral states with their own rich and unique identities. The trip reports can still be re-visited here (Kazakhstan) and here (the Caucasus)

Recently, I had the opportunity to go to Ukraine to partake in a dance festival, and I couldn’t resist seeking out the Soviet era nostalgia both in aviation and architecture, both of which are in ‘endangered state’ and are in the point of extinction. There are beauties in these aspects which sadly not too many appreciate for both economic and aesthetic reasons.

I am dividing the report in 4 parts because there are so many that I would like to share with respect to the unusual region and I believe this would be the first time most readers would have heard of the places I visited.

Part 1: Ukraine International Airlines to Kyiv with plenty of Soviet-era nostalgia at the State Aviation Museum

Part 2: Time-travelling back to USSR: Antonov-24 to Odesa and overlanding through Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic

Part 3: Throwback to 1990s: TAROM old school economy service from Moldova to Rome

Part 4: Saudia business class experience (FCO-RUH-CGK)



Chapter 1: The Flight

Airline: Ukraine International Airlines
Flight: PS716
Route: IST-KBP
Aircraft: 737-800
Registration: **-PSV
Age: 9 years
Seat: 8A
Load: Business (0/12) Economy (Full)

I would like to start this trip report in the Turkish Airlines Arrival Lounge at Istanbul.

I had earlier arrived with TK in J class from BKK at 4am local time. I had decided not to start the trip report in BKK because I would like to focus on Soviet-era themes and TK is fairly regularly reported and there is plenty of information available. Just a short summary: TK 65 was booked solid full in business class. Aircraft was A330-300 (TC-LNF). Seats are in 2-2-2 configuration with plenty of legroom but little privacy. Food was great and well-presented as expected and usual. Service was friendly above average for the crew who was serving my section. I slept really well onboard and woke up fresh. My only complaint was cabin felt too warm but I asked for temperature reduction and the crew obliged.

TK Arrival Lounge is a small lounge for arrivals located after customs and just opposite of the TK free tour / free hotel counter. It’s very handy for extra early arrivals like TK65 which usually arrive just before 4am. The lounge seems to open by 4am.



The modern interior design is of the same theme as the famous airside main lounge.



My favourite corner is the very comfortable day bed.



Shower facilities are available and prove handy for me who has come a long way since I started by journey in Singapore (early morning SQ 787 to BKK) more than 24 hours prior. Ironing facility is also available.





Food selection is fairly simple but sufficient. I was in any way still full from breakfast onboard.



I just had a quick juice and proceeded upstairs to departure area to drop my luggage for the UIA flight to Kyiv.

UIA has a very professional and easy-to-use website. www.flyuia.com.
Booking and check-in were done online, and interestingly they are making it mandatory to print your own boarding pass or else there will be an additional charge at the airport. This is truly a Low cost model and indeed UIA is targeting this segment.

As such, there is minimal personnel required at the airport. And I had trouble finding it due to it being so quiet and discreet!



Airside, the hive of activity was through the roof. 5-6am would have been one of the peaks. It’s like stepping into a different world from the ghostly landslide.



IST has turned to be a bit like a theme park in parts which could be interesting. Such as this ice cream parlour crewed by a person in costume.



I proceeded to the gate directly due to the relatively tight connection of 2 hours between STA and STD. Boarding had just commenced and I was confused on which lane was which. Apparently, there was no lane (Ukrainian style). The lanes were for TK. For our flight, boarding was ‘as one wish’



Down the jetbridge, excited to fly a little known airline.




Last edited by SQueeze; 16th June 2018 at 02:31 PM..
SQueeze is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 18th May 2018, 04:09 PM   #2
SQueeze
SQTalk Solitaire PPS
 
Join Date: 05-Apr-2011
Location: SIN/BLR/BOM/DEL
Programs: SQ QPP, 9W JP Platinum, VN GL Silver
Posts: 1,126
Default

Passed the business class cabin which is European-style. Costing about USD600 more than my USD82 ticket! Crazy.



Economy seats are almost just like business class but with flatter headrest. Design is very generic and is probably from the Boeing catalogue.



Legroom is fairly tight but not as bad as I had read from the few reports out there on UIA. I was expecting much worse like Air Asia.





Plenty of reading materials.



And a booklet full of menu. Very extensive just like Scoot. But prices are much cheaper. In Ukraine itself, as i later found out, prices are really low. It's really a very good value-for-money destination



Looking out the window, it’s Turkish territory obviously.



With some odd and unusual airlines such as Afriqiyah of Libya.



Safety demonstration was manual.



And then we pushed back to a sea of red. TK obviously has a very impressively extensive fleet and network.



And then we were airborne on the cloudy cold Istanbul spring morning.

SQueeze is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 18th May 2018, 04:19 PM   #3
SQueeze
SQTalk Solitaire PPS
 
Join Date: 05-Apr-2011
Location: SIN/BLR/BOM/DEL
Programs: SQ QPP, 9W JP Platinum, VN GL Silver
Posts: 1,126
Default

We were travelling along the Bulgarian coast.



I didnít get anything but a glass of water.



Recline is really poor.



Checking out the contents of the reading materials.

Network map is quite decent with footprint mainly in Europe and the Near East but also covering Long hauls such as Bangkok, Beijing, Colombo, New York, Delhi (new), and Toronto (new).



Fleet is modern and entirely western.



The 777 is their newest and flagship.



Itís just a short hop from Istanbul and less than 2 hours later we were descending over the Dniepr river, the main river of Ukraine.



We overflew Boryspil Airport.



Before making a sharp 180 degree turn to land.



The terminal building is newish.



And we docked next to another UIA aircraft.



Transit connection was hectic. At least 60% or more of todayís load weíre making connections. UIA business model is on Low cost connecting traffic and they are geographically perfect for this and also they have Low wage costs. Noticeably there were a lot of Chinese honeymooners from Istanbul connecting to Beijing via Kiev. This is a big market (China-Europe). Of course they are also competing with Aeroflot and Air Astana.



I had to first get my visa. It was an online pre-application. But paid at this counter (credit card only), and in 5 minutes, I was owner of Ukrainian visa. Very simple and transparent procedure.
SQueeze is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 18th May 2018, 04:28 PM   #4
SQueeze
SQTalk Solitaire PPS
 
Join Date: 05-Apr-2011
Location: SIN/BLR/BOM/DEL
Programs: SQ QPP, 9W JP Platinum, VN GL Silver
Posts: 1,126
Default

Chapter 2: State Aviation Museum

The first thing I did that morning was to visit the State Aviation Museum. This is a must-visit for Aviation enthusiasts! They have a very informative website in English as well should readers would like to know in detail of the aircrafts presented

http://aviamuseum.com.ua/en/exposition

It was a good warm day, the first one after months of winter!

A 1956-vintage Aeroflot Tu-104 long haul jet straddling the walkway. So impressive. and you can touch the belly and the engines! So surreal!





Further down, a row of Ilyushins.



Starting with the Il-18 turboprop from 1957



Followed by the Il-62 with its distinctive back-mounted 4 engines. I believe you still can fly one of these in North Korea but not elsewhere. Mẩy be Cuba too? On the museum’s website, apparently one could also go inside the preserved interiors for an additional fee. However, on this day I visited, it was not open. What a pity.



My only reservation about this open-Air Museum is that in order to draw more crowds, they are also putting in vintage cars (more fan base for sure) and a fun fair. There is no professional curator so while I think it could be interesting to place a vintage car with an airplane, it is just so disruptive to put an children’s playground or a hotdog stand right under the wings. On airliners.net, someone got really disappointed because there is no ‘purity’ or elegance in the aviation display. I was not as much but I have to say that things could have been better.



The alpha male of all the display here is the Il-86. It’s impressively huge, fat, heavy, 4-engined, and its belly hanging Low. I could barely imagine how this thing could have taken off.



At every plane, there is a good amount of basic information.




The Il-76 cargo plane was alongside the Il-86. How enormous it is too.





Again, the vintage cars, fun fair atmosphere could be too distracting. But these are the ones that draw the crowds.

Last edited by SQueeze; 18th May 2018 at 10:43 PM..
SQueeze is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 18th May 2018, 04:34 PM   #5
SQueeze
SQTalk Solitaire PPS
 
Join Date: 05-Apr-2011
Location: SIN/BLR/BOM/DEL
Programs: SQ QPP, 9W JP Platinum, VN GL Silver
Posts: 1,126
Default

The next alley is occupied by Antonovs which are Ukrainian-made.

The An-71 steals the show with its unusual look! The cousin An-74 is still flying. More on that coming in the next episode.



The Yakovlevs generally look more like western aircrafts.



What I said earlier that it could be interesting to place vintage cars amidst vintage airplanes.



The An-24. This is the workhorse of Soviet Aviation for decades. In the explanation, apparently more than 1000 had been manufactured. I would be flying on one of these even in 2018! How exciting.





The Tupolevs are in another alley. Stairs lead to the preserved interior but was not open to public that day.



There are some helicopters too and their blades droop from overhead.



There are military aircrafts on display too, which in this case are overwhelmed by the vintage cars.



Some has very interesting details.



This is the poorest display. Completely overwhelmed by the fun fair activities.



In some areas, strange activities take place. Barber service under vintage wings, anyone?



Overall, I have mixed feelings about this museum. I think they have great displays. Unfortunately, aviation fan base is too small to draw crowds. And I would prefer a buzzy atmosphere to a sad deserted museum. But some of the vintage cars and funfair activities overwhelm. If only there were better and more sensitive planners, this could be a great attraction for everybody.

Last edited by SQueeze; 18th May 2018 at 10:47 PM..
SQueeze is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 18th May 2018, 04:49 PM   #6
SQueeze
SQTalk Solitaire PPS
 
Join Date: 05-Apr-2011
Location: SIN/BLR/BOM/DEL
Programs: SQ QPP, 9W JP Platinum, VN GL Silver
Posts: 1,126
Default

Chapter 3: Golden Spires of Kyiv

Kyiv is a stunningly beautiful city and most people don’t know. And that’s the best thing. I have been to ever popular and famous Prague, and also Vienna, Salzburg, Budapest, Bratislava, Warsaw etc. All gorgeous places. But crowded and touristed. In Prague especially, tourist traffic jam is everywhere. Horrible. Kyiv, in my opinion, is more beautiful than all of them, and there are practically no tourists. It’s Europe’s best kept secret and I will let the pictures speak for themselves.

A must-see is the Kiev Pechersk Lavra Monastery - a real living monastery with live-in orthodox monks and more pilgrims than tourists. It’s like a painting !







Religion is actively resurging. In western and Central Europe, one will see more tourists and selfie-takers. Here, we have the devoted believers. And they are people of all ages.



Golden spires grace the skies of Kyiv everywhere.









And the interiors are mind blowing.



I walked randomly into a church on the way to the airport (St Volodymyr) and I was totally in awe!




Last edited by SQueeze; 26th May 2018 at 05:59 PM..
SQueeze is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 18th May 2018, 04:56 PM   #7
SQueeze
SQTalk Solitaire PPS
 
Join Date: 05-Apr-2011
Location: SIN/BLR/BOM/DEL
Programs: SQ QPP, 9W JP Platinum, VN GL Silver
Posts: 1,126
Default

Aside from the amazing beautiful heritage, Kyiv also has plenty of Soviet-era monuments which tend to get overlooked and neglected. While some deserves to be demolished for the betterment of humanity, there are some unique jewels which deserve better recognition (and renovation)

Ukrainian House in the city centre is now a concert hall and it has a beautiful atrium which is grand and light. It’s simply simple and beautiful.



The ceiling is dramatic.



Elsewhere near the monastery, the Motherland monument is a landmark nobody can miss when visiting Kiev.





There are also some others which are lesser known and are sought out only by truly hardcore architecture fans. Like this ‘spaceship’ structure in a suburban district.



Or a crematorium! The strangest thing I sought out in my years of travels.



Taking the metro in the former Soviet Union is a must. It’s like time travelling.

Some of the stations are really beautiful.






Last edited by SQueeze; 18th May 2018 at 10:50 PM..
SQueeze is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 18th May 2018, 04:59 PM   #8
SQueeze
SQTalk Solitaire PPS
 
Join Date: 05-Apr-2011
Location: SIN/BLR/BOM/DEL
Programs: SQ QPP, 9W JP Platinum, VN GL Silver
Posts: 1,126
Default

For the foodies, Ukrainian food is delicious. I had a good (and cheap!) lunch at this popular joint with Soviet nostalgia as a theme.





Nostalgia drink selection. I had the alcoholic shots on the bottom right. I think it's too sweet but ok, for the experience



Solyanka soup. A less famous soup than its Cousin borscht.



But the pelmeni dumplings with chicken liver were rather outstanding.



Georgian food is always amazing. This was one of the best meal in my life. Yes, that good. Ckhmeruli (roast chicken in garlic cream sauce) is soooo yummy. And paired with outstanding Georgian wine.



Conclusion:

All in all, I was really impressed by my first trip to Ukraine. Of course, aviation and architecture were actually side trips. I was there for a festival and I made dozens of new friends that gave me insight to the country. While I shared with them my fascination with USSR nostalgia, many of them shared more troubling memories from previous generations living in that era: stories of famine and oppression. They are not fully healed. There is a lot of frustration too with current corruption, and the belief that the Soviet system is hard to die even when everyone officially says it’s over.

The festival was attended by Ukrainians, Russian-speaking Ukrainians, and many Russians who had to travel by train because air links have been cut off against the background of the present conflict. Russian is the lingua franca and it’s beautiful to notice that everyone is just human beings setting aside ethnicity, nationality, and national crisis.

Aviation Review:

UIA experience was good enough. It was a standard economy service and I would not hesitate to fly with them again.

To be continued to Part 2, the most exciting part of the trip from an aviation perspective: the An24 (1973 vintage).

Last edited by SQueeze; 18th May 2018 at 10:53 PM..
SQueeze is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 19th May 2018, 07:10 AM   #9
yflyer
SQTalk Life Solitaire PPS LPP3
 
Join Date: 12-May-2011
Location: Singapore
Programs: Krisflyer/Star Gold
Posts: 5,493
Default

Great Part I, SQueeze! What an amazing trip you went on.

I admire the "purity" of the TR...excluding TK J, and even SQ's gorgeous 787-10, to focus on Eastern Europe!

I wonder why Ukrainian International Airlines bothered to put Euro-style J on their 737 -- I wonder why any European airline does that, in fact. Pointless.

Some very interesting Jets at the Aviation Museum, too bad about the fun fair stands obscuring some of the planes. I would have liked a peek into the interiors as well, but looks like most are not open to the public. But still nice to be able to walk to close to, and even lay hands on, these classics, up close, and appreciate their scale.

The food you had there looks quite mouthwatering too!

Looking forward to the next instalment!
yflyer is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 19th May 2018, 09:26 AM   #10
SQueeze
SQTalk Solitaire PPS
 
Join Date: 05-Apr-2011
Location: SIN/BLR/BOM/DEL
Programs: SQ QPP, 9W JP Platinum, VN GL Silver
Posts: 1,126
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by yflyer View Post
Great Part I, SQueeze! What an amazing trip you went on.

I admire the "purity" of the TR...excluding TK J, and even SQ's gorgeous 787-10, to focus on Eastern Europe!

I wonder why Ukrainian International Airlines bothered to put Euro-style J on their 737 -- I wonder why any European airline does that, in fact. Pointless.

Some very interesting Jets at the Aviation Museum, too bad about the fun fair stands obscuring some of the planes. I would have liked a peek into the interiors as well, but looks like most are not open to the public. But still nice to be able to walk to close to, and even lay hands on, these classics, up close, and appreciate their scale.

The food you had there looks quite mouthwatering too!

Looking forward to the next instalment!

Thank you yflyer

I agree the Eurostyle business class is a scam at the prices they are selling. It’s driven by the airline and they can flexibly reformat the cabin to suit short term demands. There are however still European airlines with actual business class seats. Aeroflot and TAROM. Belavia too. So it still exists. For UIA, is just a flop, they would have been able to fill up that cabin had it been sold as Y. Business traveller is not their market.

The Aviation Museum was a highlight. Mẩy be on the weekday, they would open the vintage cabins. On the website, they have a price for it.

I highly highly recommend Ukraine. It’s really beautiful, and cheap! Cheaper than India! Good restaurant meal is S$10 thereabout.
SQueeze is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 26th May 2018, 11:32 AM   #11
SQfanatic
SQTalk Solitaire PPS
 
Join Date: 05-Nov-2008
Location: SFO
Programs: KrisFlyer
Posts: 1,740
Default

Great TR SQueeze. Great pics of the airlines and the USSR. It looks almost like a historic back in time travel. Glad you got to enjoy it.
SQfanatic is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 26th May 2018, 05:51 PM   #12
SQueeze
SQTalk Solitaire PPS
 
Join Date: 05-Apr-2011
Location: SIN/BLR/BOM/DEL
Programs: SQ QPP, 9W JP Platinum, VN GL Silver
Posts: 1,126
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by SQfanatic View Post
Great TR SQueeze. Great pics of the airlines and the USSR. It looks almost like a historic back in time travel. Glad you got to enjoy it.
Yup. Thanks a lot. It's unique experience.
SQueeze is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT +8. The time now is 07:11 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Techadmin: Luke | Hosting: www.lomag.net